For several years now, folks like me have saying that ISPs and other receivers are starting to take note of engagement metrics. Well, now we cannot say that they are “starting” to take note. They are really taking note now.
For the last several months, I have been noticing an uptick in the numbers of people who are noticing that their mail is not getting though, and what is getting through is going into the bulk folder. In the past couple of months we have also seen Spamhaus taking a greater notice and showing a greater willingness to list ESPs on its famous blocking list.
There are three things driving this:
- Complaints. Believe it or not, people do complain about spam, they just don’t always do it to you. Rather they tell their providers that they don’t like what they’re seeing. Those complaints are factored into IP reputation metrics by some providers and a “fingerprint” of the message may be factored into content filtering.
- Engagement. We’ve been saying for years that ISPs are taking notice of what their clients are doing with your mail. We are now seeing some pretty firm metrics that indicate that not getting rid of people who don’t care about your mail has a detrimental effect on your ability to deliver mail to the inbox. Now, I’m not saying that ISPs are tracking clicks, but recent experience indicates that continuing to mail people who are refusing to even view your messages has an impact over the medium to long terms.
- Unclean lists. Who engages the very least with an email marketing campaign? People who never asked to be mailed in the first place. Using purchased, rented, or appended lists is a sure way to drive low engagement statistics and high complaint rates, for the perfect storm of points 1 and 2 to drive decreased delivery. Right behind that is going to be assuming that permission lasts forever. Sometimes people don’t want mail anymore, so take some time to ask people who haven’t responded in a year or more if they still want to get your mail.
So, what does this mean? Simply that the space has to grow up. When you were a kid, you could run to mama and get her to make everything better. When you grew up some, mama started making you solve some of those problems yourself. The same is true here: You can’t run to your ESP or an ISP and expect them to “make everything all better.” They both expect you to take some responsibility for what you are sending and to whom you are sending it.
So, the next time that you have an issue, take some time first to examine what you are doing to minimize complaints and the use of unclean data, and what you are doing to drive engagement. Take some responsibility for what you are doing. Your ROI, your ESP, your recipients, and their ISPs will all thank you for it.